I have stayed quiet about this for far too long, having spent the better years of college dedicating myself to a certain project. There is not one person you can name who was a dedicated to it as much as the man writing this. Yet, I was the one who was let go. Not to the surprise of many of you, I am speaking of the SkullGirls project. Many of you would not know of it now, if it wasn’t for the time and effort I sacrificed for the project. I have spent time and given up good grades so that I could have something to show to potential employers. It is not so far fetched to say that I’ve sacrificed a potential career for the project. This is a brief history of not only SkullGirls, but a comment on community based game projects. I’m going to take my time and split this post up into multiple parts. Feel welcome to comment and criticize any point I make.
It all started when I became aware of an article on siliconera.com*. The site featured an article on a new indie game called SkullGirls. Being an avid fan of the doujinshi game scene in Japan, this news that there was an American developed indie fighting game excited me. Unfortunately, I was soon to be disappointed.
As a fighting game player and programmer, I wanted to become involved in the project, so I wasted no time finding the SkullGirls website and contacted the developers. Having grabbed the demo, I noticing some deficiencies in the game’s mechanics. Using one of the characters, you could continuously keep attacking, keeping your opponent in block stun. This was only one of the problems. I quickly informed the developers. The lead developer let me know that the hitboxes were generated by a rectangle, generated from the maximum height and width of a sprite. Not only the attack boxes, but the boxes which the game detects an offensive collision were calculated from the sprite’s area. It did not take long to realize they had no clue about 2D fighting game mechanics. They even wanted to implement a block button! Seeing the potential in the art of SkullGirls, I wanted to save the project from obvious failure due to poor mechanics.
It did not take long for me to convince the project members that they had a seriously problem on their hands. Could they release a fighting game that lacked all the mechanics that have been refined in fighting games for over a decade? I argued against this, and soon found myself as the lead software developer after the previous one had quit. At the time, me and another SRK members, MikeZ, argued over combo system that Skullgirls should have. I will get to this later.
I had convinced the project leaders that I had what it takes to program for the project by developing a series of animation tools to assist in content development, even including a hitbox editor. The tools supported the existing file formats the game used. This was first time I had developed such software, and I even demonstrated my own fighting game engine that I had been working on. I showed how it contained features that were essential to fighting games that the previous engine lacked, such as hitstun based on a move’s strength. There is no way I can really say if I actually intimidated the existing programmer or not, but he left the project. There was a gap left that either MikeZ or I could fill. After a few weeks of debating, MikeZ forfeited on account of having little time because of his real software development job. What follows is an account of the projects development while I was at the helm.
I’ll continue this post at some future time. Feel free to discuss